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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3
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Black Tie International:
National YoungArts Foundation "Backyard Ball"
 Sarah Arison, Jessica Lang, Jason Moran, and Carolina Garcia Jayaram attend 2017 YoungArts Backyard Ball at YoungArts Campus on January 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for YoungArts)

Annual Backyard Ball Performance and Gala Raised more than $1.5M to Support Aspiring Artists Across the Country

Javon Jones Accepted 2016 Max Mara Visionary Artist Award 

Alumni Performance Directed by Tony Yazbeck 
Celebrates Individuality and the Power of Art
On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) hosted its annual fundraiser in Miami, the Backyard Ball performance and gala, to help support the artistic development of the nation’s most promising young artists. In addition to recognizing the talent of this year’s 691 YoungArts Winners, the event honored jazz pianist Jason Moran (1993 Winner in Jazz) with the Arison Alumni Award, and choreographerJessica Lang as the Arison Award Honoree for their vital contributions and commitment to the arts. The event also featured Javon Jones’s acceptance of the inaugural 2016 Max Mara Young Visionary Award presented byMaria Giulia Maramotti, Max Mara’s Director of retail for North America. 

The inspiring evening raised more than $1.5M in support of YoungArts’ programs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., which offer aspiring young artists life-changing opportunities to work with leading artists in their fields, present their work to the public, and collaborate across disciplines. Backyard Ball guests applauded the 2017 Winners and celebrated the culmination of the organization’s signature program, National YoungArts Week, which took place from January 8 – 15.

The Backyard Ball was presented for the third consecutive year by Italian luxury brand Max Mara, with VIP Host Sponsor UBS, and was hosted by Dr. Kira and Mr. Neil Flanzraich. The joyous evening welcomed more than 700 guests, including renowned artists and alumni, such as painter Will Cotton; choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones; Javon Jones (2016 Winner in Dance and Max Mara Young Visionary Award recipient); jewelry designer Paris Kain; musician Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy; writer Joan Morgan; artist and author Michele Oka Doner; artist José Parlá; choreographer and dancer Desmond Richardson (1986 Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts); actress Zuzanna Szadkowski (1997 Winner in Theater and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts); photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber; and singer-songwriter Chris Young (2003 Winner in Voice and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts). 

Community leaders in attendance included Lisa Schejola Akin; Silvia Karman Cubiñá; Ximena Caminos; Bernardo Fort-Brescia; Howard Herring; Alan and Diane Lieberman; Bob Lynch; John Richard; Victoria Rogers; Dennis and Debra Scholl; and Franklin and Jessica Sirmans. 

Philanthropists present at the event included Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm; Ana Codina Barlick and Robert Barlick; Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz; Olga Blavatnik; Paul and Trudy Cejas; Armando and Margarita Codina; Diana DiMenna; Alan Faena and Ximena Camino; Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear; Marina Kellan French; Marvin Ross Friedman and Adrienne bon Haes; Jared and Stacey Galbut; Patricia Garcia Velez Hanna; Rose Ellen Greene; Lisa Heiden-Koffler and Adam Koffler; Richard Kohan; Daniel Novela; Soledad Picon Fernandez; Oti and Remi Roberts; Jackie Soffer; Anthony and Sandy Tamer; Blaine Trump; and
 Terry Zucker.
The evening was emceed by comedian and actress Amanda Seales (1999 Winner in Theater), and featured an elegant black-tie reception and seated dinner by STARR Catering Group. The design concept for the event was developed by Hannah Taurins (2016 Winner in Visual Arts), and featured a white origami theme with suspended paper butterflies that appear to fly over the space, fragmented candle holders and vases, and Edison bulb chandeliers.

Throughout the night, a series of performance vignettes directed by Tony Award-nominated actor, singer and dancer and 1997 Winner in Theater Tony Yazbeck featured YoungArts alumni: Melinda Sullivan (2005 Winner in Dance/Tap), Isai Jess Muñoz (1997 Winner in Voice & Musical Theater), Daniel Winshall (2016 Winner in Jazz), Pascal Le Boeuf (2004 Winner in Jazz), Evan Sherman (2011 Winner in Jazz), Bri Ray (2016 Winner in Voice/Singer/Songwriter and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Mariella Haubs (2014 Winner in Music/Violin) and Madison Hicks (2013 Winner in Dance/Modern). 
For more information, visit 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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